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Kaweah Health granted extension of its military healthcare workers

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Laura Florez-McCusker

Kaweah Health urges community to limit social gatherings for the Labor Day holiday

VISALIA – Kaweah Health Medical Center has been granted a 14-day extension of the military healthcare team that is assisting the local hospital in its care of COVID-19 patients.

“This is a celebratory moment for us,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s Chief Executive Officer, noting that the Visalia hospital will continue to work with the State of California and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to request a full 30-day extension. With the 14-day extension, the deployment will end on Aug. 29. “We have greatly enjoyed this partnership, working together to help care for our community and the surge in COVID patients we experienced following Fourth of July gatherings.”

Since mid-July, the team of 21 military healthcare workers – mostly from Travis Air Force Base – have been assisting the Kaweah Health team.

The team’s arrival happened at a time when COVID numbers were on the rise and more than 70 staff members were on quarantine, which made staffing hospital beds a challenge. On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Kaweah Health was caring for 64 patients with COVID-19, down from the Visalia hospital’s high of 91 patients on July 25, but still with more than 70 staff members quarantined at home.

“We’re worried about Labor Day. Ideally, we would like to have the military healthcare workforce for 30 more days because it would help us get past Labor Day when we know we will see an increase in cases,” said Keri Noeske, Kaweah Health's Chief Nursing Officer. “In the meantime, we have been working to increase staffing by bringing on new hires because that’s really the goal of it. The military support is not meant to be a long-term solution, but it helps create a window for us to get staff in place. And as hard as it will be, we do ask the community to help us by limiting their social gatherings for the Labor Day weekend.”

Kaweah Health's solutions to staffing challenges include incentivizing clinical staff to work additional shifts, hiring additional clinical staff, and hiring more student nurse interns. Additionally, Kaweah Health has already returned a number of registered nurses to the bedside who traditionally work in other departments.

Kaweah Health shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its website at and on its social media accounts.